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(October 24 [Nov. 5 NS], 1854

The last of the three field battles which preceded the long siege of Sevastopol during the Crimean War. It was a serious defeat for the Russian Army. For a description of our visit to Inkerman and many photos of the battle area please go to Visit. A painting depicting Inkerman is among those of Simpson we display at Simpson. And for information on the fine museum in Sevastopol please go to Panorama.


We have all the maps from Beskrovni's atlas and Kingslake's book and will present them here as we prepare them for viewing.Inkerman 1 shows the general area of Inkerman heights, Victoria Ridge and Shell hill. This map shows the first phase of the battle. And this map shows the second phase.

Brief Description

We have the report published in the New York Times. The battle is named for a ruin on the northern bank of the Tchernaya River near its mouth. However the battle was actually fought some distance away across the river on a nameless ridge between the Tchernaya and the Careenage Ravine. The British occupied part of the ridge and the French were located to the south to cover the rear of the besiegers in front of Sevastopol. The Russian commander in chief, Prince A. S. Menshikov, planned a combined attack on the ridge by part of his army (16,000) outside the city and a corps of 19,000 that was to sally forth from the town. This attack was to have in addition to its own field artillery the support of 54 heavy guns from Sevastopol. The left wing of the Russian troops on the Balaclava battlefield was to keep the French forces under General Bosquet engaged. The Russians planned to follow up a successful assault on the ridge by a general offensive. Menshikov intended that the forces from outside would attack the ridge from the north, while the troops from inside the city would attack along the Careenage Ravine. He did not appoint a single commander for the two forces until the last moment. The troops did not clearly understand their missions. The commander of the forces from the city, General F. I. Soimonov, assembled his 17,500 troops at dawn and led them up the ridge east of the Ravine, while the column from outside under General P. Ya. Pavlov (14,000 men) crossed the Tchernaya River near its mouth almost at right angles to Soimonov's line of advance.

The British troops near the action were the 2nd Division (3,000 men) encamped on the ridge, Codrington's brigade of the Light Division (1,400 men) on the slopes west of the Careenage Ravine, and the Guards Brigade of 1,350 men about a quarter mile in the rear of the 2nd Division. There were no other allied troops within 2 miles except another part of Sir George Brown's Light Division.

Soimonov deployed his troops in a normal attack formation of three lines of battalion columns covered by a few hundred skirmishers and pushed forward along the ridge about 6 AM without waiting for Pavlov or for General P. A. Dannenberg, the officer appointed to command the whole force. Shell Hill was guarded only by a picket force and was taken at once. The heavy guns that had been brought from the fortress were placed in position on this hill. They opened fire on the British at 1,400 meters about 7 AM.

The Russian infantry halted for the guns to prepare the way, as the heavy artillery shells swept the crest of the British hill and destroyed the camp to its rear. By this time General Pennefather, commanding the British 2nd Division, had pushed forward one body of infantry after another down the forward slope near the foot of which they encountered the Russian strength. Soimonov was compelled to break up his regular lines of columns at the narrow part of the ridge and push his battalions forward a few at a time. This and the broken nature of the terrain made the battle a melee right from the start. The mist that had at first allowed the large battalions to approach unobserved now favored the weaker British side. Soimonov formed up some 9,000 troops, who drove the British left wing back. Pennefather had no more than 3,600 in his entire force. The British continued to hold their position on the forward slope, since it was not attacked by either Russian column. Meanwhile Soimonov sent a column of Russian sailors and marines up the Careenage Ravine to turn the British left. These were caught as they emerged onto the plateau in the rear of Pennefather's line between two bodies of British troops hurrying forward. The Russian attack also came to a standstill in front of the British positions, where it ebbed as the overcrowded battalions pushed one another and dissolved on the narrow and broken plateau. The disciplined confidence and steady volleys of the defenders dominated the courage of the Russians. Soimonov was killed at the head of his troops. Thus 3,300 defenders were able to repulse and even wipe out the whole column from Sevastopol. This lasted about 40 min.

In the second phase, the first attack of Pavlov's advanced guard with assistance of part of Soimonov's corps was weak, but General Dannenberg arrived on the field and arranged for an assault on the British center and right to be delivered by 10,000 men (half his remaining troops). The assault was to move by way of Quarry Ravine under cover of the guns on Shell Hill. Pennefather was reinforced by the Guards Brigade and a few smaller units. During this phase a key role was played by two insignificant field works: a line of stones at the head of the Quarry Ravine and a small two gun battery called Sandbag Battery.

The line of rocks fell into Russian hands, but they were soon ejected by small British detachments. Various Russian attacks flowed up and past it and ebbed back into the Ravine. Possession of the Sandbag Battery was far more fiercely contested. The British right wing was held by 700 men of the 2nd Division reinforced by 1,300 from the Guards Brigade. The line of defense adjacent to the battery looked downhill for about 300 yards giving a clear field of fire for the new Enfield rifle. Beyond that, a break in the ground gave the Russians a dead space in which to form up. The battle consisted of a series of Russian assaults delivered with great force followed by retreat and disappearance of the attackers into the dead space.

The arrival of part of the British 4th Division, under Sir George Cathcart, gave the British a chance for a counterattack. Most of the division was first used to patch up weaker parts of the line. Cathcart with about 400 men worked his way along the lower and steeper part of the eastern part of the ridge so as to take the Russians in flank. As he moved forward the Russians moving higher up the ridge descended upon his small group and scattered it killing Cathcart. Other counterattacks were made at the same time from other parts of the British line. This had the result of breaking the British line into a series of isolated groups each fighting in the midst of the enemy. The crest of the ridge was opened and parts of the Russian right wing seized it. They were again pushed back to the lower slopes of Quarry Ravine by the leading French regiment sent by Bosquet. This regiment was followed by others.

Dannenberg made one last assault with his 6,000 worn out troops leaving his 9,000 man reserve out of the action. Had they joined the assault it might have been successful. The Russian heavy guns on Shell Hill continued in support enabling the Russians to take the sanger and part of the ridge line. They were again drive back into the Quarry Ravine and the French took up the defense along the edge of the ravine. The allied field artillery, reinforced by two long 18 pdr guns of the British siege train, gained the upper hand with the assistance of the bold advance of two French horse artillery batteries that galloped down the forward slope of the ridge. Finally, the dominant guns on Shell Hill were silenced and the resolute advance of a handful of British infantry decided the day. The Russians retreated. The battle was over by about 1.30 PM

The total British force engaged was 8,500 of whom 2,357 were killed and wounded. The French lost 939 out of 7,000 but not all of these were engaged. The Russians lost 11,800 out of about 42,000 present. That the British lost 27.7 percent of their force is evidence of the intensity of the battle. The arrival of French reinforcements could have been prevented, if General Prince Michael D. Gorchakov, commanding the Chorgun Detachment, had carried out his orders to attack at Sapun gora. The courageous Russian attack did convince the Allies not to attempt a quick assault on the city, but to settle in for a protracted siege. Return to top.

Order of Battle at Inkerman:


1st Infantry Division - H.R. H. the Duke of Cambridge
Guards Brigade
3rd Bn The Grenadier Guards
1st Bn Coldstream Guards
1st Bn Scots Fusilier Guards
Highland Brigade
42nd Highlanders - the Black Watch
79th Highlanders -
93rd Highlanders -
2nd Infantry Division - General Evans
1st Brigade
41st Foot
47th Foot
49th Foot
2nd Brigade
30th Foot
55th Foot
95th Foot
3rd Division - General England
1st Brigade
1st Royals
38th Foot
50th Foot
2nd Brigade
4th Foot
28th Foot
44th Foot
4th Division - Cathcart
1st Brigade
20th Foot
21st Foot
57th Foot
68th Foot
2nd Brigade
63rd Foot
1st Bn Rifle Brigade
46th Foot (2 companies)
Light Division - Brown
1st Brigade
7th Foot
23rd Foot
33rd Foot
2nd Brigade
19th Foot
77th Foot
88th Foot
2nd Bn Rifle Brigade

Cavalry: Earl of Lucan (present but not engaged)

Heavy Brigade
4th Dragoon Guards
5th Dragoon Guards
1st Dragoons
2nd Dragoons
6th Inniskilling Dragoons
Light Brigade
4th Light Dragoons
8th Hussars
11th Hussars
13th Light Dragoons
17th Lancers

7 batteries and two 18-pounders with the divisions
2 troops and 1 battery near Balaclava

3rd, 4th 8th, 10th and 11th Companies


Column A - Lt. Gen Soimonov (17,500 men)
Ekaterineburg Infantry Regiment
Tomsk Infantry Regiment
Kolivan Infantry Regiment
Vladimir Infantry Regiment
Suzdal Infantry Regiment
Uglitz Infantry Regiment
Butirski Infantry Regiment
22 12-pounder and 16 6 pounder cannon

Column B - Lt. Gen Paulov (13,500 men)
Borodino Infantry Regiment
Taroutine Infantry Regiment
Ochotsk Infantry Regiment
Yakutsk Infantry Regiment
Selinsk Infantry Regiment
Supporting attack column - Gorshakov (20,000 men)
Supporting attack column - Timofiev (20,000 men)


Barker, A. J. The War against Russia, 1854-1856, New York, 1970.

Dubrovin, N. F. Istoriia Krymskoi voiny i oborony Sevastopolia, 3 vols. St. Petersburg, 1900

Tarle, E. Krymskaia voina, 2 vols. Moscow, 1950.

Please visit our other articles on the Battle at the Alma River and at Balaklava. For a complete listing see Crimea. To return to Xenophon main page please click here.